How AI Will Impact Job Opportunities in the Middle East

by Zaara 17, Sep 2018

How AI Will Impact Job Opportunities in the Middle East

The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) is such that it will transform industries and the employment sector by generating approximately 2.3 million job opportunities by 2020! In the Middle East, the potential impact of AI is expected to reach USD 320 billion in 2030, which will prompt 20-34% annual GDP growth (with the fastest growth of US $135.2 billion in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia). Thus, AI offers jobs which not only promote economic growth in the region but also acts as a tool to support sustainable development.

By 2050, about 90% of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) population will be urbanized, and that will bring about a radical transformation in job opportunities. Many of the jobs in the Middle East didn’t exist till a few decades ago, and odds are that the young professionals of the future Middle East will work in distinct domains that don’t exist today. Therefore, the dire need for artificial intelligence courses has risen, and professionals should undergo such courses to help them improve their skills and be a part of the next wave of technological development.

Now, the problem is not whether AI will radically transform the workplace in the Middle East, but how industries and organizations can actively use AI in the UAE in methods that enable and not replace the human workforce. Let’s have a closer look at how AI has impacted the jobs in the Middle East.

The Influence of AI on Different Industries


The potential of AI varies extensively across different industries. For the sectors which are dependent on human interaction like entertainment, arts, and recreation, the AI potential is below the average of 29-37%. The sectors which are concentrated in routine tasks such as IT (information technology) have more than 50% AI potential.

When it comes to transportation, it is already going through a major transformation due to AI and automation. With fully autonomous cars that are safer and more efficient to drive, professional drivers (trucks, taxi, buses etc.) will see a decline in their skills requirement. AI has contributed approximately 15.2% GDP growth in the Middle East in the transportation industry.

Retail and e-commerce sectors are booming in the Middle East with AI generating almost 19% of the GDP in these sectors. AI has mainly affected the laborious jobs which can be easily supervised with automation and robotics. For instance, the cataloging department will be fully automated, and the robots will navigate the warehouse to collect goods and deliver it to the customers. Moreover, the need for networks and salespersons will reduce, and the AI agents will deal directly with the Retailer AI agents based on various strategies, objectives, and requirements.

Traditional professions such as administrative and legal services, which are developed through human relationships will also be significantly influenced by AI. The legal services that deal with document summarization, classification, comparison, and management can be executed more efficiently with AI assistants. Similarly, industries like financial and insurance which require a significant quantity of content handling and data processing will also benefit from AI. The financial sector will benefit from AI in the Middle East with an expected $28.3 million investment by 2021.

The Influence of AI on Job Roles

Jobs functions which are tedious can be efficiently automated with AI, and AI can slowly make some roles outdated. For example, activities and task related to call center operations, content moderation, and document classification can be easily performed with automation and technology. However, in the long run, AI will also generate new jobs associated with the maintenance and development of AI and other distinct jobs opportunities. The challenge lies in the fact that almost 57% of the currently employed workforce in the Middle East has little professional experience with only a high school degree or a graduate degree. A higher education degree with artificial intelligence courses will be the best way to secure a job in the future labor market of the Middle East.

According to a study performed on 1,000 global companies, it was noted that implementing AI generated 80% more job opportunities. It is estimated that out of all the new jobs created, actual AI machines will fuel just one third, and the remaining two-thirds will be professional assistance and services delivered by people. In Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman, the AI potential is approximately $366.6 billion in wage income.

The answer to job displacement due to AI is to reinforce the knowledge and skills of local workforces in the Middle East to help them tackle the AI and robotic revolution. As the number of AI devices and machines increase rapidly, so will the demand for jobs around them. Point being, robots cannot interact with machines the way a human brain does, and they require human intervention at periodic intervals to keep them running smoothly. This means there will be a market for people at every step of the AI sector. From construction, development, and experimentation, to maintenance, support, and programming, these AI-enabled machines will not be able to operate without any constant external attention from humans.

The Middle East is endowed with a well-educated population that can enhance the region’s future growth scenario. With AI, the potential of this workforce to provide to the social dynamism and economic growth is enormous, given that the region’s employment markets are technologically equipped.

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